5 QB questions for Week 3: Let’s start with Saban and his curious QB rotation

How good was Drew Lock on Saturday?

He became the 12th SEC quarterback to throw for 450 yards in a game since 2000. Just six conference QBs in that span threw more than his 5 TD passes.

That’s pretty good, opponent be damned.

Chad Kelly also was quite good, though his competition will be the stiffest imaginable Saturday.

Which leads us to the 5 most important SEC quarterback questions for Week 3.

1. Can Chad Kelly beat Nick Saban for a second time?

Answer: I don’t think so. The number of SEC QBs who have beaten Saban twice at Alabama is short. So short, there’s only one: LSU’s Jordan Jefferson.

Tim Tebow couldn’t do it. Johnny Manziel couldn’t do it. Nick Marshall couldn’t do it. There’s zero shame if Kelly doesn’t, either.

Kelly might become the the first QB to pass for 300 yards twice against Saban — he’ll have to because the Rebels can’t expect to run for 100+ yards — but Alabama’s defense is on another level. And they’re probably still furious about the two long TDs they gave up last year — one a fluke on a ball that never should have been thrown, the other a blown assignment.

Kelly leads the SEC with 7 TDs and is second with 3 INTs. Alabama has 3 INTs in two games. The Tide will get about 50 more opportunities to make plays Saturday.

Everything that could have gone wrong for Alabama did in last year’s game … and Alabama still almost won. That started with Saban’s strange choice at starting quarterback, which leads, naturally to …

2. Will Nick Saban stick to his two-man QB rotation Saturday against Ole Miss?

Answer: Last year, this was the only game Jacob Coker didn’t start — and it was the only game Alabama lost.

Jalen Hurts has won the job. He’s clearly the answer. At this point, it’s only stubborn to keep disrupting the offense’s flow by playing Blake Barnett. There’s nothing inherently wrong with Barnett. He’s just not Hurts. That’s how it is at Alabama, when you stack 5-stars beside 5-stars. You can rotate RBs, LBs, DBs, and DLs a lot easier than you can QBs.

I don’t think we’ll see a random rotation Saturday. Hurts has a chance to do something spectacular on every series, so you have to let him ride out a few three-and-outs or even turnovers.

3. Given Lock’s record performance Saturday, is “QBU” back?

Answer: Missouri had quite the run of sending signal-callers to the NFL, though admittedly much of that success was before the Tigers joined the SEC. Lock won’t reproduce those numbers in an SEC game, but the passing game is night-and-day better than it was last season.

It’s not unrealistic to think Missouri will finish in the top five in passing after finishing dead last in the league in 2015.

4. Did Danny Etling do enough to win LSU’s starting job?

Answer: I still like Brandon Harris, but I’m about the only one still on that bus. His lack of success is puzzling. He absolutely looks the part, but we’ve seen other big, strong, athletic QBs not excel at the position. Whether it’s scheme or skill, we’re far enough along that Les Miles doesn’t really have another option other than to bench him, particularly in light of how Etling rescued the Tigers in relief last week.

Etling wasn’t exactly lights out at Purdue, though. His completion percentage stayed consistent — in the inconsistent mid-50s.

5. Have other SEC teams settled their QB derbies heading into Week 3?

Answer: Most appear set. Except at Kentucky (ouch) and Georgia, where Greyson Lambert is ready to pinch-throw for Jacob Eason. That will be a situational substitution rather than Kirby Smart still trying to figure out which guy is better. Smart knows that answer is Eason.

LSU could flip back, but Etling would really have to struggle.

Other jobs have been won. Nick Fitzgerald was terrific for Mississippi State in Week 2.

Auburn showed signs of tweaking its attack to take advantage of Sean White’s strength — which is throwing the football. White ran for 60 yards on 10 carries — but John Franklin III ran for 70 on just 4 carries. Let’s not get carried away in thinking White will run like that against SEC fronts, but it’s his job. Gus Malzahn will use JF3 in specific situations.

Saturday, Texas A&M will present White with an entirely different degree of difficulty.

If White can stand in the pocket and be efficient against Myles Garrett and Co., I’ll never again question whether he’s a good fit for this system. I’m just not convinced he can or is. And while he’s the best passing option Auburn has, he might not be the best fit against pass rushes like this. Saturday will be very telling.

Drew Barker still gives Kentucky the best chance to throw the ball, but no job is safe when you throw more interceptions than completions.

Chris Wright is Executive Editor at SaturdayDownSouth.com. Email him at cwright@saturdaydownsouth.com.

Source: Saturday Down South

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